Chris Huhne's Ex-Wife's Trial Continues
Chris Huhne's ex-wife confided in her eldest daughter after he forced her to take his speeding points, a court heard today.
Vicky Pryce's eldest daughter Georgia Beesley said her mother told her in 2003 that Huhne had bullied her into taking the points, claiming if she did not and he lost his licence, then he would lose the election for the Eastleigh seat and it would be her fault.
Mrs Beesley said her mother told her in late spring or early summer 2003, when she was about 25, about Huhne demanding she take the points.
She did not live with Pryce and Huhne at the time, but lived nearby and would speak to her mother once or twice a week, she said.
''I remember speaking to my mother and she told me that Chris had been caught speeding and was asking her to take speeding points,'' she said.
''If he had taken the points he would have lost his licence. He was very insistent that she take the points for him.''
Pryce is standing trial accused of perverting the course of justice by taking the speeding points in 2003. She denies the charge, saying she was bullied into it by her then-husband.
Giving evidence, her daughter told Southwark Crown Court: ''He didn't want to lose his licence, he was standing for election and had to travel regularly to Eastleigh.
''And he would say to her that if she didn't take them he would not be able to drive, that he would lose his licence, and that it would be her fault if he didn't get elected.''
She said her mother was ''very upset, very angry'', and ''obviously didn't want to take the points''.
Mrs Beesley said she could not remember if her mother asked for advice but said she ''definitely told her that she should not take the points''.
''We spoke about how she felt and what was happening at home and I remember her saying that every conversation Chris was insisting that she took the points, that he just went on and on and said things like it wasn't a big deal and why wouldn't she do it.
''He couldn't understand why she wouldn't do it.''
She said her mother told her that Huhne had nominated her as the driver without telling her, and when it arrived, she was already named as the driver.
''I know she felt pressured into signing the form,'' she said, and said the issue resurfaced as Huhne lost his licence anyway that summer.
He was caught talking on his mobile phone whilst driving on March 28, 2003, and was disqualified.
''He lost his licence anyway that summer and mum had to drive him whenever he needed driving,'' said Mrs Beesley.
''A lot of comments were made around that time, 'I have got to drive you anyway, even though I took the points'.
''There was quite a bit of resentment.''
She said her mother was ''very upset she had had to do something she really didn't want to do and the outcome was exactly the same''.
The court heard in 2011 during the police investigation into the points-swapping, Mrs Beesley had called detectives from Athens to say she did not want to give a statement.
''At that time I didn't want to speak to anyone about what had happened,'' she said.
''We were being hounded by the press and I thought it was all part of the same thing, that everybody wanted to talk to us about what had happened and I just didn't want to do it at that time.''
She said once her mother was being investigated, she often did not speak to her daughter about the state of the police investigation.
''When I asked my mother once the police were involved, about what was happening, she didn't want to talk to me about that,'' she said.
''It was actually quite frustrating because I didn't always know what was going on.''
Mrs Beesley later made a police statement in September last year, the court heard.
Asked by prosecutor Andrew Edis QC why she originally advised her mother not to take the points, she said: ''I was single, I didn't understand the pressures that someone could be under in a marriage.
''I did not appreciate at that time what it would be like to be living with someone constantly badgering you to do something that you know was wrong and feeling like you don't have a choice.''
Describing the problems her mother had to deal with, she said: ''She was on her own a lot of the time, dealing with the children, holding the family together whilst Chris was often away, trying to make sure that everybody was going to be ok and it was a very emotional time and the family was the most important thing.''
Asked if Pryce had told her about the moment Huhne stood in the hallway with the form, waving a pen at her, urging her to sign, Mrs Beesley said: ''No, she didn't''.
Mother-of-five Pryce previously told the court that Huhne had been happy to take on stepchildren, treating all the children equally, and had given away both her daughters from her first marriage when they got married.
The evidence has now finished at Southwark Crown Court and tomorrow the jury will hear prosecution and defence closing speeches, and summing up from the judge.
During the trial, the court has heard how Pryce revealed the points-swapping in a bid to ''nail'' Huhne, 58, after he left her for PR adviser Carina Trimingham in June 2010.
The economist claimed she wanted people to know the truth about the former Energy Secretary, but told the court she wanted to ''turn the clock back'' when the story hit the headlines.
The 60-year-old, from Crescent Grove, Clapham, south London, claimed Huhne twice demanded that she terminate pregnancies because of the effect on his career.
After she became pregnant accidentally in 1990, she said she had an abortion at his behest, but resisted the same pressure two years later and gave birth to their youngest child.
Pryce, who was helped in her newspaper dealings by her friend, lawyer and part-time judge Constance Briscoe, denied accusations by the prosecution that she waged a six-month press campaign against her ex.
She said she wanted to expose Huhne's wrongdoing, not ruin his career, adding: ''If I really wanted to inflict fatal damage on him I could have done something very, very different.''
The court heard glowing testimonials about Pryce from several high-profile figures, including Sir John Scarlett, former head of MI6.
After staunchly denying the accusations, former energy secretary Huhne finally admitted the offence last Monday, pleading guilty.
The shock move ended his political career, sparking a by-election in Eastleigh after he stood down as MP.